Thursday, February 17, 2011


I truly respect and honor this man. Rodolfo, or as most of you know him “Dolphy”, is a towering talent and a good man. His comedic skills transcend the language barrier and make me smile every time I see him. Not a day goes by that there is not at least one of his many hundreds of movies or television episodes bringing laughter and joy into your home. Beyond his overpowering talent he is at heart a good person. He often steps out of the spotlight and encourages young talented artists to take center stage. He knows how hard it is to become a success in the rough and tumble entertainment industry even when you have skills. In addition, Dolphy is well known for not forgetting his friends. When a fellow entertainer is having a hard time, it is often Dolphy who is first there with a helping hand. His heart is almost as big as his talent. He truly is “The King of Comedy”.

In some small ways I identify with Dolphy. While I am no where near as talented, we both did come from very humble beginnings. Both of our families were very poor. While he struggled to survive in his career during World War II; A few years later I was struggling to survive in my career in the Vietnam War. And finally, we are both old men in love with beautiful women less than half our age. Zsa Zsa Padilla is a very talented and beautiful woman, but she is half Dolphy’s age.

I often wonder if Zsa Zsa is ever approached by young Filipino men and offered sexual services just in case Dolphy is not able to perform. My wife gets those offers almost every day. I wonder if Zsa Zsa is called “nawong og kwarta” (gold digger) for loving a man with money. Passing pedi-cab drivers yell that at my wife all the time. I wonder if “high class” (?) society people call Zsa Zsa a “puta “(whore) behind her back, just because she is partnered with an older man. My wife is the topic of their nasty gossip all the time. I wonder if Zsa Zsa, holds her two beautiful daughters and quietly cries herself to sleep because of the ugly things these “good” people say about her. My wife just cries herself to sleep holding a pillow. She never lets me know just how much she is hurt.

Happy Birthday Dolphy, you are an “Everyday Hero” extraordinaire.


Gossip is almost like a living thing. It grows changes and almost has a life of its own. Good gossip seems to have a short life and dies young; but bad gossip changes, grows, gets uglier and never seems to die. Bad gossip distorts reality and causes people to look for and see the worst even when it does not exist. The story of that drunken shirtless fat foreigner sitting at a boulevard bar is believed even when it never happened, because many of us expect them to be fat, drunken and shirtless. The lie that Visayans are lazy is believed to be true in some corners of the Philippines (i.e. Aguinaldo’s “History of the Philippines’’) when the “hard working” truth is plain to see just by looking around Dumaguete City.

The local police are victims of this bad gossip. I cannot count the number of crooked police stories I have heard. You almost never hear about honest cops; just the ones that take bribes and extort money. It is time to set the record straight. Most police officers are hardworking and honest. They believe in justice and try, despite frustration, to safe guard the public and punish the criminals.

Take the Bacong police as an example. A friend of mine had two encounters with the Bacong police and both times they demonstrated that truth and justice was their primary concern.

A speeding motorcycle rammed into the back of my friend’s halted vehicle. Despite the testimony of many observers who said it was the “foreigners” fault, they determined, from the physical evidence, it was the speeding motorcyclist fault and cited him accordingly. They made him pay for the damages.

On a second similar traffic accident the guilty driver failed to pay for the damages as he had promised. When the authorities in his community were “not able to find” the guilty driver, the Bacong police drove over 60 kilometers and arrested him in his home. Even in America it is rare for police to pursue justice with so much dedication. There were no bribes. There were no attempts to extort money. The Bacong police were ONLY motivated by a quest for truth and justice.

I know good gossip is not as much fun as bad gossip; but good gossip builds a stronger community and creates mutual respect. If you cannot kill the bad gossip at least do not spread it, instead let’s keep good gossip alive. Let’s honor the Bacong police and other selfless heroes in our community.


Around the world many people call them ugly names; “Pigs”, “Gestapo” or “Thugs with a Badge”. Generally most people do not like the police but few stop to realize how difficult their job is, especially here in the Philippines.

There are an average of 37,254 crimes against people and property committed here every year. There is one rape every three hours; there are 5,735 murders and over 4,079 homicides annually. Fifteen women and six children are reported beaten every day. There are 5,185 sex crimes committed against just children each year. Every time you see a beautiful innocent child, think about that. That means that almost one out of every four children will be molested before they reach eighteen years of age.

To make law enforcement even more difficult 45% of our courts have no judges. There is a 22% shortage of prosecutors and many people find the justice system so flawed they do not even bother to file a case. Many crimes just go unreported. Those that do seek justice are often threatened and intimidated by criminals into dropping the case.

Beyond this horrendous work load and almost impossible burden of preventing crimes, some law enforcement officers fail their brothers. Over 4,447 police officers were disciplined for failing in their duty; 239 officers were completely dismissed from the service.

We have an expression in America, “Never judge a man until you have walked in his shoes”. Being a Philippine police officer is a very difficult profession. Six out of ten police officers are paid below the nation’s poverty level. Out of these poverty wages they must buy their own uniforms, equipment and maintain the highest standard of appearance. Nine out of ten police officers admitted they have debts to government and private lending institutions. One out of two have no bank savings. Often the people they arrest earn more money in a week than they make in a month. You always hear about the “dirty cop” but you never hear about the thousands of hard working honest cops; the brave men who risk death trying to protect you.

Public safety is a team effort. The police cannot do their almost impossible job without your support. File those criminal charges; testify and put the bad guys in jail. Remember those 37,254 crimes reported every year, 85% were solved and the criminal arrested. That is not bad for a bunch of “pigs”. Think what they could do if we helped them a little more; honored and supported them a little more. That frail thin blue line is the only thing between us and anarchy, total chaos. They are not “pigs” they are your brothers and sisters. Help them fight graft, corruption and crime. Give them the respect most of them have earned.


The last time I talked about this topic I was savagely attacked by three readers on the Negros Chronicle forum. I admit, I am neither a geneticist nor a Bible scholar. The information contained here is the result of research. Knowledge is the key to understanding.

I am proud of how Filipinos handle the sensitive subject of homosexuality. Generally Filipinos are more mature and compassionate than people in other countries. I have known two respected and professional teachers who were openly gay. That would, tragically, never be accepted in my country. Several of your most respected TV and movie stars are openly gay; one even pretends to be gay but has a wife and child. The Philippines has fraternities and sororities for homosexual students. There is a political party that advocates gay issues. Prejudice is usually the result of fear and ignorance. I cannot remove the fear but maybe I can impact the ignorance.

According to the latest scientific research ( XY Chromosome Studies ; Twin Studies, etc.), most homosexuals are born gay. They have no more control over their sexual orientation than they do the color of their eyes. In Twin Studies, where twins are separated at birth, there is a startling demographic. In American society a child has a 4% chance of being gay ( 11% in the Philippines; XY Chromosome Studies) If one twin becomes homosexual, the chances the other twin will also become homosexual rises dramatically to 40%. Obviously there is something more going on here than a “free will choice”.

Darwin, who was a Christian, maintained that traits that do not contribute to survival of the species are lost. Accepting this as fact, then begs the question, why has homosexuality survived in almost every species? Obviously homosexuals are not inclined to have offspring of their own so how does it contribute to the survival of the species? The current theory is that homosexuality helps to control population levels. Homosexuality helps prevent a species from over populating and creating starvation.

Many Christians maintain that the Bible condemns homosexuality. They base this belief on such passages as Leviticus 18 and 20. Not all Biblical scholars agree. Some theologians believe those and other passages were not so much a condemnation of homosexuality as an attack on some pagan religions that used homosexuality in their rituals. I do not know, but I am left with the question, if homosexuality is genetic, why would God create it?

As a compassionate Christian I cannot condone or support actions that hurt other people just because they love the same gender. I trust God to sort these things out. It is not my job to judge or punish; it is my job to respect and love. If you are one of those who judge and hate those that are different than yourself maybe you need a refresher course in the Golden Rule. Be everyday heroes and replace anger with compassion and love.

We never have too much compassion and love.


There was a terrible automobile accident. The traffic was jammed up for miles. Amid all the chaos there was a long dark limousine with tinted windows. You knew whoever was inside was important because he had a police escort. The police motorcycles turned on their lights and sirens attempting to clear the way for the huge car. The window slowly rolled down and a man leaned out, in a strong firm voice he said, “Turn off the lights and sirens. We do not own the road”. When the man heard that some people had been hurt he gave up his limousine and let the injured use it as an ambulance. He finished his trip in a common everyday car.

In a small way the man was wrong; he did own the road. You see that man was Ramon Magsaysay, the President of the Philippines.

Outside of the Philippines few people know or remember this magnificent man but he is one of my personal heroes.

Magsaysay’s early life was not unlike millions of other young Filipinos. He was the son of a poor blacksmith and a school teacher. He worked as a chauffeur, mechanic or any other job that would pay his way through school. At the outbreak of World War Two he and several other Filipinos organized the Western Luzon Guerrilla Forces. He became a battle hardened professional Army officer. While serving in a variety of post-war government jobs, Magsaysay earned the respect of the Philippine people.

Magsaysay even came to Negros. There was a heated political contest in Negros Occidental. Magsaysay came down to mediate the two warring factions. He was too late. Moises Padilla was publicly tortured and killed. There are pictures of Magsaysay personally carrying the man’s mutilated bloody body to the morgue. The murderers were eventually convicted and sentenced to die.

Ramon Magsaysay was elected President in 1953. He was the first President sworn into office wearing the traditional Barong Tagalog. His political philosophy was that government was there to protect the little people; the rich can protect themselves. Magsaysay is the only President of the Philippines, so loved; he did not need a body guard. His administration was considered one of the cleanest and most corruption-free; his presidency was cited as the “Philippines' Golden Age”.

Most Filipinos already know this story; a few foreigners will find this mildly interesting but I have a greater reason for writing this column. I am convinced the next Magsaysay is walking the streets of Dumaguete City right at this moment. All he or she needs is the confidence to try. If you believe in yourself there are no limits. Your nation needs you. You can lead this beautiful country out of poverty and corruption into a second “Golden Age”. Do not give up on her; she won’t give up on you.


When my father was arrested for public drunkenness, I was the one who went to the jail to bail him out and took him home. When he stood in our front yard and peed in front of our neighbors, I was the one who stood by his side in embarrassment. When he passed out, I undressed him and put him to bed. When he got sick and vomited on himself and the kitchen floor, I cleaned up the mess. I endured his cursing and violent rages. I took his verbal and physical beatings in silence. I cooked food and tried to get him to eat rather than drink. Everyone else in the family ran away; I was the only one who stayed and endured his abuse; his addiction.

I killed my father; not with a gun; not with a knife. I killed my father with love. If I had not made it easy for him to be a drunk; if I had let him wake up covered with his own vomit on the kitchen floor, maybe he would have realized he was destroying himself. Maybe he would have stopped his drinking. I made it easy for him to be a drunk. I enabled his addiction and hurried him to an early grave.

I look around Dumaguete City and see the same tragedy being played out on our city streets almost nightly. From the drunken foreigners on the boulevard; to the drunken Filipinos on the corner drinking tuba, potentially beautiful people are committing suicide and calling it fun.

My brother-in-law had a horrible motorcycle accident that almost killed him. I thank God for that motorcycle accident because it saved his life. My brother-in-law is a fine man, and intelligent man, but he used to drink every night. One night he and his best friend crawled on his motorcycle a sped off into the darkness. When he woke up he was in a local hospital. His gonads were the size of basketballs and he was in horrific pain. But the real pain came when he found out he had killed his best friend. My brother-in-law does not drink anymore and I admire him for that.

When I go to parties here in Dumaguete I am always asked to have a drink. When I try to explain that I do not drink alcohol; they look at me as if I were a visitor from another planet; something less than a man. Trust me it takes more of a man to refuse a drink than it does to accept it. My father died at 53. My brother died at 47. I am older than dirt and I think two of the reasons I am still here; I do not drink or smoke.

If you love someone and they are destroying themselves with booze let them feel the full weight of their addiction. Let them stay in jail until they are sober. Let them sleep on the floor covered in their own vomit. Love them enough to let them suffer. Maybe they will clean up their own life like my hero, my brother-in-law.


You probably would not notice him if you passed him on the street. He does not attract much attention to himself; in fact it took me a month to arrange a meeting. Being Muslim he does not drink or carouse with women. He has specifically requested I not reveal his name. This is not about him but about helping people.

At first my friend did not know what to do, but he knew he had to do something. He adopted a family and once a month brought them a huge sack of rice. Slowly he noticed a change. The children became healthier, more active. The families living conditions became better. He was having a positive impact on their lives and their future. It was still their job to lift themselves out of poverty but at least now they had the strength. It does no good to teach someone how to fish if they are not strong enough to fish.

If you go to this web site you will see a small boy hiding behind his mother’s skirt. His right eye has a tumor. He probably got this tumor from heavy metal contamination in the river where he plays. My friend has taken him to several medical specialists but it is too late. This sweet innocent boy will probably die a painful death. Maybe we can save the next child.

So why has my friend authorized me to tell you his story. Does he want donations? He refused to take money from anyone. I even volunteered to carry the rice and corn to the adopted families and he would not let me. He revealed his secret life because he wants you to think about taking two hours out of your life every month; taking a few pesos out of your wallet every month and make a difference. For the price of one meal at a local restaurant you can save a family and give them a chance to break the chains of poverty.

You never stand as tall as when you bend down to help others.

FOOTNOTE: As I always do, I let my friend read the column before it is published. As I expected, he was not happy about this being about him. He wrote:

Poverty is degrading and dehumanizing. Yet it is all around us. We are not Florence Nightingales, but we can do something… Feeding of hungry children is very fundamental. It brings changes to the lives of children and … their families… Instead of living in slums, becoming addicts and criminals… they hopefully can stand on their own feet, support their own families, and contribute something to society. The effect of simply feeding a hungry child will go on long after we are gone.


1. We have decided that we will supply food, not money. Food is least likely to be re-routed to drinking or gambling.

2. We carefully choose families in urgent need of help. This means personally going to meet these families, seeing the living conditions, understanding the earnings potential, their general health.

3. We have decided to standardize our help by ONLY supplying a staple. All families have unique problems, we cannot solve them all. So our model is 100 kilos of a staple per month per family. They can use some of their own money to buy dried fish, vegetables, oil, etc

4. We want to continue to do this without gaining a high profile. Right now we have no organization; simply friends doing what each can do to help.

5. So far we've been doing this by using my personal funds. If we are to increase the scale of our work, we would like to tap into the local individuals who will join us. We ask for a commitment of 100 kilos of staple for one family for six months. The current price of 100 kg of rice/corn is P 2,650 per family.

6. We don't want to handle money. Our hope is for you to join us; adopt a family and make a positive change.